150 B- POLEVOI now imbandaged and healing up. The more lively his correspondence with Anyuta became, and the more close- ly he became acquainted with her university affairs, the more critically did he scrutinise his scorched and disfi- gured face. In the twilight, or in the dimly-lit ward, it did not look so bad, it looked good, in fact: fine features, a high forehead and a short, slightly ^hooked nose, short black moustache that he had grown in the hospital, and fresh, stubborn, youthful lips. But in a bright light it could be seen that his face was covered with scars around which the skin was drawn tight. Whenever he got excit- ed, or came back flushed from his bath treatment, these scars made him look hideous, and examining himself in the mirror at such a moment, he was ready to weep. In an endeavour to console him, Meresyev said: "What are you moping for? You are not going to be a screen actor, are you? If that girl of yours is genuine, it won't make any difference to her. If it does, it shows that she is a fool. In that case, tell her to go to hell. A good riddance. You'll find one of the real sort." "All women are alike," interjected Kukushkin. "What about your mother?" asked the Commissar. Kukushfcin was the only man in the ward whom he addressed in the formal way. It is difficult to describe the effect this calm question produced on the lieutenant. He sprang up in his bed, his eyes flashing fiercely and his face turning whiter than a sheet. "There you are! So you see that there are some good women in the world," said the Commissar in a concilia- tory tone. "Why do you think Grisha won't be lucky? That's what happens in life: the seeker always finds." In short, the entire ward became reanimated. The Commissar was the only one whose condition steadily grew worse. He was kept alive with morphine and cam- phor, and sometimes, as a result of this, he would toss restlessly about in his bed for whole days in a semi- drugged condition. After Stepan Ivanovich's departure he seemed to sink more rapidly. Meresyev requested that his bed be shifted closer to the Commissar's so as to be able to help him if need be. He felt drawn more and more to this man.